Sporting Kansas City trades defender Ike Opara to Minnesota
Sporting Kansas City has traded former MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara to Minnesota United for $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, which could reach $1 million if certain incentives are reached.
One source said that if Minnesota makes the playoffs, then the incentive will have been reached, adding to Sporting Kansas City's haul. The new playoff format approved by MLS for 2019 will see seven teams in each conference make the postseason.
"We've been laser-focused on adding starters in key positions of need this offseason and we feel that Ike is an excellent addition to a really good core group of defenders already on our roster," said Minnesota sporting director Manny Lagos. "He provides a wealth of MLS experience -- he is coming off of two great years. We are thrilled to add his quality and leadership to our roster."
Opara, 29, was the third highest-paid center back on the team last season behind Matt Besler and midseason acquisition Andreu Fontas. Opara made $342,916.63 in guaranteed compensation according to the MLS Players Union. Besler made $783,250 while Fontas made just under $1 million.
Opara had expressed dissatisfaction with his contract to Kansas City sporting director and manager Peter Vermes back in December. At the time he asked Vermes to consider any trade deals that came in for him.
Vermes told ESPN FC earlier this month that there had been little activity in terms of interest in Opara, but with the training camp now open, a deal got done.
Opara signed a contract extension with Kansas City just prior to the 2018 season, and was set to run through 2019 with a club option for 2020.
Opara was drafted third overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes but injuries stunted his growth as a player and he was traded to Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2013 campaign. Opara finally shook off the injury bug in 2016, and has made at least 25 appearances in each of the last three seasons. His MLS career has seen him make 157 league and playoff appearances, scoring 15 goals and adding five assists.